Cuban salsa has Latin forerunners 

Cuban salsa has Latin forerunners

WHO: The Puentes Brothers

WHERE: The Boot Pub

WHEN: Dec. 4

If you’re a music lover living in Whistler – and you’ve been paying attention – then you’ll know by now that four distinctive forms of music swing through the valley Dec. 1-8: Ashley MacIsaac with his Cape Breton fiddle; Michael Kaeshammer with his boogie woogie piano; Johnny Ferriera with his saxophone-driven swing machine, and The Puentes Brothers, with their version of traditional Cuban salsa. (All these events are at different venues, which just adds to the variety).

It is the Cuban origin of salsa song writing that the Puentes Brothers will be bringing to The Boot Pub this week, and the beginning of authentic Cuban salsa in Canada.

You know this music has a chance to succeed when young people mention it on the street, which happened to me in Whistler the other day. Alexis Puentes, on the phone from Vancouver Island, is not surprised by the local fascination with the music he and his brother Adonis are playing.

"We’re getting to see that. Everywhere I play, young people are there," Puentes said. "I think it’s because I do the album with all my heart. It’s really wonderful. But you know, we are the only Latin band with a video on (mainstream) Canadian TV."

After only 18 months as Canadian citizens, the Puentes Brothers have landed a record deal, produced and recorded a CD, called Morumba Cubana , and gained popularity with the song Oye Rumberito, which is the video Alexis refers to. "We want to do a club mix, because we think this music is good for that, you know, techno-house. There is already one artist, Zesaria Evora, who has done it, and she sounds good."

Cuban music is similar to, but not the same as, Latin American salsa. Puentes call his music as close to authentic Cuban as you can get. But when asked why he called his music Latin, and not Cuban, he laughs.

"I say Latin, because a lot of people think of it as that. I know what you mean. People call it Latin because they think of the meringue or the cha cha or something like that. And then they also think of 20-person bands, wearing bright colours and big gold jewelry. But that is more of a Latin American, Chilean salsa.

"We have to get ourselves billed as Cuban," Puentes added. "We don’t do the meringue."

Puentes says the confusion between Cuban salsa, which is drawn from the tradition of the island’s roots music called son, and Latin American salsa, comes from Cuba’s "closing to the world" in the 1950s. The Buena Vista Social Club, he says, is excellent Cuban traditional music, but it is the classics from the 1950s and earlier.

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